Effective watershed management includes developing a watershed management plan as well as implementing the recommendations within the plan. The plan recommendations should include a combination of measures – ranging from changes to local zoning, development regulations and programs, to installation of best management practices at specific priority locations – to protect sensitive watershed resources and to restore resources that have already been degraded by agriculture or urbanization. Highly urban watersheds with little remaining undeveloped land will likely focus more on restoration versus a rural watershed with many sensitive pristine areas, but most watershed plans include a combination of both protection and restoration measures. Although protecting natural resources from degradation is generally more successful and cost-effective than trying to restore them after the fact, unfortunately, efforts to protect watersheds are frequently only begun after significant impacts have already occurred.
The Center promotes an approach to watershed management that considers all stages in the land development process from land use planning through land development and post occupancy. Depending on the level of urbanization in a given watershed, the management plan may focus more or less on any one of these tools. This approach to watershed management was first advanced in the Rapid Watershed Planning Handbook. A series of guidance documents that provide more specific guidance on a restoration approach for managing small urban watersheds (~20-100 square miles) is also available from the Center below. Additional resources for watershed protection and restoration are provided below.
During 2003-2008, the Center developed an Urban Subwatershed Restoration Manual Series with funding from EPA. The series presents an integrated framework for urban watershed restoration, outlines methods for desktop and field assessment and stakeholder management to develop effective small watershed restoration plans, and describes seven major practices used to restore urban watersheds: stormwater retrofits, stream repair, riparian management, discharge prevention, pollution source controls, watershed forestry and municipal operations.
To download more FREE Center resources on watershed management, including field assessment protocols, research studies, audits, models, example watershed plans and technical reports, go to our Free Downloads page.
Additional resources are provided below: